Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2017


The emergence of open-source 4G/5G ecosystems

Overview of 5G, network slicing, and OpenAirInterface

One of the interesting aspects of the 4G/5G era is confluence between the open-source software-defined networking technologies used in mainstream fixed networks and the closed-source technologies used the access and core components of cellular networks. This poses significant challenges from a legal standpoint because of the required mix of the two software technologies in common data centers. This conflictual relationship is aggravated further with the emergence of mobile edge computing. Once the legal issues are ultimately resolved, as it seems to be the case, the main issue will be that of satisfying real-time processing constraints for the radio-access network functions. These stem from the latency requirements of cellular systems when the radio-access procedures are executed on commodity servers. Moreover, when network function virtualization is put into the picture to allow for techniques such as network slicing to descend down in the radio-access network, the situation becomes even more challenging from a real-time perspective.

This talk will provide an overview of the evolution of 4G networks towards 5G and some of he new applications and industries that will be enabled by it. We also cover the role of the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance and how it is trying to soften the blow of clash between open and closed-source communities in radio-access and core networks along with its relationship with some of the other related open-source communities. The talk will also cover some technical aspects related to the difficulties in virtualizing radio-access network functions on commodity servers when it comes to real-time requirements, orchestration and management.


Raymond Knopp